Raising Entrepreneurs; Ideas from the weekend

This past weekend I met with a group of budding entrepreneurs to discuss ideas and strategies for starting profitable business ventures.  Following are some notes and comments from our time together.

1. One of the young men, in the process of consulting with companies on web design and online marketing was hitting a wall on price negotiations.  The issue?  Value has to proceed price!  The buyer has nothing to compare the price to, simply because the project was quoted without a consultative look at the right approach and corresponding value.  When proposing a project, find out what business impact is expected.  If the project will help grow the business by millions of dollars, what’s a few thousand to get it done?  The hurdle becomes likelihood of outcome rather than budget.

2. Some of our time spent on Mastering Boardroom presentations highlighted several common mistakes in effectively presenting.  Here are a few items worth noting:

  • You have 6 seconds to grab your audience.  Don’t waste them on small talk getting started – try a question or a attention grabbing story.
  • The structure of your presentation is critical.  Think of it like a song – it has a structure the listener can follow.  When it’s over, it’s over.  So only end one time!  (this is my personal greatest irritation with speakers – ending twice.)  And don’t jump around between points.
  • Don’t read your speech.  (Not from the paper or the slide.)
  • Cadence is important.  People who don’t speak professionally may speak in spurts, draw out obvious bullets to the point of boring the audience, or speak so fast no one can hear the words.  Pace your talk, speed up where it makes sense, explain the details when needed, and practice articulating each word.
  • Listen to yourself!  It takes hundreds of speeches to sound like a professional, so speak often, record yourself, and take time to listen to each talk you do.  This is important for any sales person responsible for reviewing proposals and ideas with management teams.

3. Meet the basic needs of your customer base.  Everyone struggles with at least one of these basic needs: Financial freedom, health, marriage and family harmony, and personal happiness.  Chances are, if you can provide one of these in the course of your businesses dealings, you’ll have loyal customers.  Of course, when you’re selling to businesses, focus your value on the Four things Buyers Buy ™; ROI, competitive advantage, operational efficiency, or risk mitigation.

4. A great business model should have a recurring model or passive cash flow aspect to it.  If you can get 40% of your revenue through this aspect of your business, you will feel much better at the start of the month.

5. In setting your vision, think about; Your passion, market need, and economic engine.  Your offering must have all three.  If there isn’t a sustainable economic engine, the business has a 1 in a million chance.

6. Your message has to be great.  Great products without great marketing, rarely make it.

7. The right people in the right seats may be more important than the product or offering (according to Jim Collins, Author of Good to Great).  Great people make mediocre things work.  A poorly performing team will kill a great idea.

© 2010 David Stelzl


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